Just over a week after fleeing the war in her home country, Ukrainian world No.140 Dayana Yastremska channelled her grief into on-court power and went all the way to the final of the Lyon Open, but the title required just a little extra energy as she was edged by China’s Zhang Shuai in the championship match, 3-6 6-3 6-4.
After spending two days in an underground garage, Yastremska fled the war in her hometown of Odessa, making it to France via Romania. All eyes were on her at the event in Lyon and the support she received helped her advance to her fifth WTA final.
The last obstacle for Yastremska was Chinese world No.64 Zhang Shuai, seeded eighth this week in Lyon. A single break in the sixth game was enough for Yastremska to comfortably take the first set. She seemed to be striding towards victory when she opened the second set with a break, but Zhang won eight of the next ten games to seriously endanger Yastremska’s position.
From 2-0 down in the third set, Yastremska won four games in a row, but her momentum was quickly stopped as Zhang won the next six games to win the WTA 250 tournament.
This is Zhang’s third WTA title and first outside of China. Her previous two titles both came in Guangzhou, in 2013 and 2017.
During the trophy ceremony, the 21-year-old Yastremska managed her emotions well, although she was on the verge of crying. She will donate her prize money to Ukraine.